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Head: dr hab. inż. Andrzej Rakowski



Financial support

National Science Centre, Poland, grant UMO-2020/37/B/HS3/01622


Due to the fact that currently available research tools from archaeology to history are not able to unequivocallyDue to the fact that currently available research tools from archaeology to history are not able to unequivocallyhelp in answering the question about the Inca expansion in the Cordillera Vilcabamba area, exact sciencescome to the rescue. According to a chronological scheme, based mainly on Spanish chronicles, the imperialphase of the Inca State was rather short, and began with the ascension to power, around AD 1438, ofPachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the ninth sovereign according to the so-called traditional list of Inca rulers. He andhis successors, extended the State first to the North-West of the capital city of Cusco to present-day Ecuadorand then to the south-east to the territories of what is now Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. According to thismodel, the Inca Empire lasted ca. 100 years. Although the historical chronology is the most accepted versionof events it does not mean there are no divergent models. Some authors have questioned the historical validityof the whole Inca dynastic list, or, at least, the duration and chronological position of the reigns of thesovereigns in the list and the deeds that were attributed to them. The project aims to reconstruct historicalevents from the period of expansion of the Incas state in the pre-conquest period and is to help answer thequestion about how Inca supremacy spreads in the key region of Cordillea Vilcabamba. The studied area wasextremely important for both political and economic reasons, because it was a kind of link between Amazonand the capital of the state, that is Cusco. A thorough chronology of the entire process will be developed toreconstruct historical events. To reconstruct this in detail, we will use radiocarbon data analyses, which,interpreted in the right way, will allow us to determine expansion routes and their time frames. Organicsamples from excavations in the region of both the Machupicchu National Archaeological Park and otherstrategic sites from the Inca viewpoint will be subjected to radiocarbon analysis. Samples taken from properlyselected excavation contexts will allow us to capture the moment when the Incas entered the given position,which, in turn, confronted with data from other positions, will allow us to simulate the development of eventsfrom nearly 600 years ago. Due to the lack of written sources from this period, it is the only possible tool thatwill allow us to discover historical truth. Due to the development of AMS radiocarbon dating technology, thelevel of detail in the results obtained will most likely be sufficient to perform this type of analysis.

Research methodology

The research methodology for the first part of the project is dictated by the methodology ofarchaeological research of Peruvian partners. The Polish side will not be responsible for the implementationof archaeological research, but only for radiocarbon analysis of the samples found. However, when it comesto the methodology of archaeological research in Peru, these are usually wide-area studies with a distinctionbetween cultural layers and the so-called survey excavations are often used (trincheras and calas). Thanks tothis research methodology, it will be possible to assign the obtained samples to individual cultural layers, which, when there will be enough samples obtained in one trench, will allow for later Bayesian analysis,assuming that at least one sample for analysis from each cultural layer.

Samples will be obtained in such a way as to prevent contamination at all levels from collection todelivery to the laboratory.

The selection of excavation sites and in particular excavation units for the years 2020-23 wasconducted in consultation with Peruvian-Polish specialists (PANM and CEAC) in terms of chronologicalsubjects. Polish experts have the status of participants and consultants in research conducted by the Park(Peruvian law does not allow independent work of foreign archaeological missions in the Machu PicchuNational Archaeological Park). The competences of Polish experts include, in particular, supervision ofstratigraphy and sampling for radiocarbon analysis.

All contexts will be documented in accordance with the principles of Peruvian documentation (becausethe Peruvian side is responsible for their excavation), all contexts will be photographed and samples measuredin accordance with the principles used by the Peruvian side. The Polish side will supervise sampling in such away that they will not be damaged. For this purpose, employees will be trained in the proper handling ofradiocarbon dating material and will be equipped with specially prepared monument cards, filled in whenpossible organic elements suitable for radiocarbon analysis are found (the most popular organic finds includingthe region includes pieces of coal, animal bones, seeds, charred vegetables).

Standard chemical pre-treatment for different kinds of samples (plant material, bones, leather etc) willbe used for determination of radiocarbon concentration using an AMS system consisting of several successivestages. In this procedure, four main stages can be distinguished – preliminary chemical preparation,combustion of the sample, carbon dioxide purification and graphitization.

The cathodes produced in this system will be measured at tone of the AMS laboratory in Europe orUSA. While, the samples for stable isotopes studies will be measured at the Silesian University of Technology of Gliwice.

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